I never told Tanner how much of me went with him when things ended. We didn’t talk for weeks after, and when we did it was too late to say anything.
I got used to sleeping in my own bed every night. Or in the studio on a futon when I didn’t have the energy to go home. I got used to the sad quiet that slept in my studio during the day after I awoke and the way ideas came from new directions in a different code.
I dated other people, and figured that he did, too. I thought about him when a date got to the point of taking off our clothes. The men I went out with were incompetent, insecure despite the way they acted with their clothes on. I felt like everything I said was a script. I talked about galleries where I wanted my work sold, even though I was twenty-five and had no idea where I wanted to go. I went out with real estate agents, law students, computer programmers who were a few or sometimes, several years older. They were the strangers who GET you drinks at bars. The ones you don’t actually date. I ate at nice restaurants and was not allowed to pay the bill. I introduced one of them to my parents. His name was Steve.
With Steve, I thought I was getting closer to my adult life. And then I realized that most of the time, he made me feel like a shirt that didn’t fit its owner. We fought, and one time, after we got the words out, he said, “I don’t hurt you, right?”
I was confused, wiping tears.
“Have I ever hit you, Sammy? Even yelled at you?”
“Of course not.”
“So what’s your problem?” he said.
WHAT COMES AFTER BY LINDSEY SILKEN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 12
PARENTHESIS BY MELISSA TANDIWE MYAMBO 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 12
Cheikh frowns, furrowing his pretty face. He is tall and his dark skin is burnished with a hint of gold because he has told me that his grandmother was one of those famous Saint Louis métisses, half French, half Senegalese, back in the days when Saint Louis was still the elegant capital of colonial French West Africa. He seems proud of the fact and I wonder if that is what he likes about me, why he finds me “beautiful”, my light mulatta skin, my blue eyes. I am tired of black people who hate their own skin color and women who hate their own bodies. I am tired of this conversation before it happens.“Why can’t you stay?”
TEN LIES BY PAUL BUCHANAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 12
Emmy comes out of the bathroom wrapped in a white towel. A blue towel is wound on her head like a turban.
“When did you tell the Parkers we’d meet them?” Dale asks her, sitting on the bed, already dressed. He points the remote at the television and thumps through a few channels to the news.
“I forget,” she tells him, looking at the television screen. “I’ll call her again in a minute.”
She opens the towel and lets it drop to the bedroom carpet. He sees the stretch marks on her belly and looks away. He watches the news while she rubs lotion on her legs. She pulls on her clothes and stands in front of the dresser brushing out her hair.
“Damn Republicans,” he says.
She picks up the cordless phone on his nightstand and takes it around to her side of the bed. She sits down next to him and pulls her legs under her. He glances over at her just as she pushes the re-dial button on the phone. He freezes. He looks back at the television.
“Hello,” she says. “Trish?” She listens a moment. “Who is this?” Dale feels her look at him suddenly. “Is this Jennifer? Jennifer, is that you?” She is silent a few seconds and then presses the hang up button and looks at Dale.
Dale clicks across a few more channels and pretends to watch Gilligan’s Island.
“Were you talking to Jennifer while I was in the shower?”
“No,” he says.
“I just pressed re-dial and got her number,” Emmy tells him. “You were talking to her. Weren’t you?”
He is silent a few seconds. “You must have hit her speed-dial number by mistake,” he tells her.